Offseason staff tweaks help reveal importance of Brian Hartline

Austin Ward02/17/20
Article written by:On3 imageAustin Ward


Hartline by Birm
Ohio State wide receivers coach Brian Hartline is a key asset for the program. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics about the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about Ohio State and Brian Hartline? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.

Brian Hartline is on the rise, there’s no question about that.

It wasn’t exactly a secret even before his second successful season leading the wide receivers, and it definitely isn’t now that he’s followed it up by being named the national recruiter of the year. Whatever Hartline envisions for his career, it’s all going to be in play for him depending on what he wants.

Only he can answer that question, and for now he’s made it clear that he wants to stay at his alma mater. Of course, it also helps that some rather conveniently timed reshuffling of the offensive staff happened in the offseason that almost certainly made it easier for the Buckeyes to keep him around with a hefty raise, a new title and more responsibility — potentially as the passing game coordinator.

Ohio State is still in the midst of finalizing contracts for the coaching staff for next season, and there have been no public indications about just how much more Hartline will earn or if that role will officially be added to his job description. But the way Ryan Day proceeded with promoting Corey Dennis to be the quarterbacks coach was a subtle reminder that no national search for a big-name, splashy addition to the staff was needed. The first order of business for Ohio State was locking up the record-setting coaches already on hand, and securing Hartline for as long as possible had to be a priority.

Brian Hartline-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State wide receivers coach Brian Hartline is heading into Year Three as a full-time coach. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Yes, Dennis earned his full-time spot thanks to a three-year interview process working under Day. But at least some of the appeal for the Buckeyes in maintaining that continuity with Dennis had to be the chance to allocate more resources to Hartline, who has clearly earned it since he got his own in-house promotion and hasn’t looked back since taking over the wideouts.

Kevin Wilson remains dramatically underrated for his work alongside Day, and both running backs coach Tony Alford and offensive line coach Greg Studrawa have proven themselves as key to powering the ground game. But to keep the passing attack humming and the pipeline of elite receivers full for the next couple years, anything the Buckeyes could do to keep Hartline comfortable had to be done as well.

How long will the Buckeyes be able to do that? That’s a tougher question to answer, because sooner or later there are going to be offers for Hartline to run his own program somewhere. Given the financial commitment Ohio State has shown for its coaching pool, the likely chance to bolster his resumé with a new title and the ability to stay close to home, there’s probably not going to be many coordinator jobs that would pull him out of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center — if any at all.

But Brian Hartline is going to be a head coach some day. A crystal ball for where and when is almost completely useless in a profession as volatile and unpredictable as college football, and depending on how long he wants to wait, that could even happen without him ever leaving Columbus.

All that truly matters at the moment, though, is that Hartline is happy right where he is.

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